Roy Hodgson expects Aaron Wan-Bissaka to resist any temptation to play international football for the Democratic Republic of Congo and to instead commit his promising future to England.
The Crystal Palace full-back has excelled since Hodgson handed him his first-team debut little over a year ago, and to the extent that the 21-year-old is in contention for an England call-up in a position in which Gareth Southgate already has significant strength in depth.
Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier are already vying for selection at right-back, potentially blocking Wan-Bissaka’s route, but while Hodgson recognises his eligibility for DR Congo through his parents, he does not believe he will abandon England.
West Ham’s Declan Rice recently switched allegiances from the Republic of Ireland to England, who Hodgson selected Wilfried Zaha for before he committed to the Ivory Coast, but the Crystal Palace manager said: “I don’t see any signs of him wishing to change allegiance.
“I personally hope he doesn’t because he is a very, very good player. I do understand players who never get a chance to play for their country, maybe playing for the country of their parents’ birth. But he is already playing for his country, playing for England (at Under-21 level).
“He was born and brought up here in England. Obviously he has a liaison to his parents with Congo. But basically speaking he has been a very important part of Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-21 team for at least a couple of seasons.
“He has been one of the cogs that enabled the team to qualify for the World Cup and take part this summer, which he is really looking forward to.
“If Aaron gets selected for the national team, we will be really pleased, of course. I don’t intend to make any suggestions to (Gareth Southgate) in that respect.
“I work on the basis that he knows Aaron, he knows the other players who are competing for that place, too, and he will make the decision which suits him and if Aaron is selected for the senior team, we will be delighted.
“We are equally delighted he is doing so well for the Under-21s. For us, it’s a win situation.”
Palace on Saturday host rivals Brighton, who will move level with them on 33 points if they win but remain at risk of relegation if they do not.
“This is a very important fixture and one that means a lot to our fans,” said Hodgson.
“You prepare them to give a good performance and remind them of the importance of this game to the fans.
“It’s one of the nine big games we have remaining. We do realise the importance of occasions; we do realise that to a lot of supporters, this means more than even a game against Manchester United.
“But it’s a game that we have to make certain we don’t allow our performances to in any way be affected.”